Epically Good: Soul Cycle’s Charlee Atkins

Recently when I fessed up that I had never been to a Charlee Atkins class, one of my Soul Cycle friends was horrified…. his exact response was “that is unacceptable” followed the next day by a list of classes he was going to be taking with her the next week. Turned out there was really only one that I could make, her Saturday night class in Tribeca – which is easily my favorite of the Soul Cycle studios. I am always game for any new class and always have fun at Soul Cycle, so I immediately wrote back and said “I’m in!”

soulcycle Charlee AtkinsWhen I got to the studio, my friend had already checked me in and after a brief moment of horror at realizing I was in the front row, I shrugged it off and snagged a pair of shoes for the ride. When I turned around there was Charlee, sporting a bright red baseball cap worn backwards, who really is stunning in person but also has a wide, disarming smile. I’d seen so many serious, smoldering fitness shots of her that the smiling, sweet, open person asking me how I felt about “aggressive rides” in front of me threw me off a little. In those first few minutes of meeting her, I realized that my preconceived notions of what this class was going to be were just completely out the window.

In the room, I got all set up and waited for the class to start. My friend was across the room so I sat there in the front row and just took in the scene, which was filled with regulars (always easy to spot) and a few newbies to the class like me. After everyone got settled, Charlee immediately got down to business. The music was aggressive but in the best possible way and I immediately was sucked into the ride. The songs had us riding on a heavier, slightly slower beat than a lot of the Soul Cycle classes I have been to, so with the heavier resistance and more seated work, it was a class that just felt GOOD – hard & challenging but good.  She also did a thing I loved, she broke down the pushup moves. Charlee would start the pushups in a slightly slower tempo section and then would allow the music to ramp up the speed of them naturally. It made so much sense to me that I was pretty close to being able to do all of the chorography – even the clapping pushups towards the end! It was like a miracle – I was in the front row and didn’t feel totally hapless!

CAtkins

Charlee was just amazingly charismatic – on the bike or when she would get down off and move around the room- she pounded out the beat with her whole body. I totally get now why my friend was so horrified that I hadn’t taken her class…I walked out of her class completely blown away and trying to figure out when I would get to take another one.

Charlee really is just epically good.

Charlee Quote

Photos of Charlee from the Soul-Cycle Website & quote from their Facebook page

Crashing The Party: Rocking Out With Ryan Foley At SoulCycle

Months ago, I read Ryan Foley’s SoulCycle story about going from being 60 pounds overweight, working 90-hour work weeks on Wall Street to finding SoulCycle and becoming one of their newest instructors. I love stories like that – about finding your passion and just going for it. I’ve wanted to take his class ever since, then on Friday, in a flurry of Twitter exchanges with another exercise fanatic, I was invited to Ryan’s class the very next day.

Ryan Foley In January 2012, Ryan discovered SoulCycle and by the end of the year he’d made his radical (and AWESOME) leap – but this would be his first birthday on the bike in front of the room. Held in the stunning Tribeca Soul, it was in the smaller of the two studios but the class was packed to the rafters with friends. There were a few randoms like me, who hadn’t taken Ryan before but mostly it was his crowd and they roared for him almost instantly – it was one of those rides that when you were clipping into the bike you just knew was going to be special.  I felt a little bit like I had snuck into a party and was just hoping no one would realize that I didn’t belong and kick me out!

As I entered the room, the charming, handsome Ryan hollered “FBS in the house! I think you are over there!” I grinned, waved and set out to set up my bike as quickly as possible since it was almost time to start. I was in the middle of the room (for me a Soul score) but surrounded by obvious Soul-ers. Ryan got the room going from the bike and immediately the playlist rocked. The very first song was Linkin Park and two women in the front row and directly in front of me had their hair down and started to rock out the moment the class started. The idea of riding with your hair down just confounds me and I was completely captivated when one of them full on started head banging when Nine Inch Nails came on. Watching it, I was totally smitten with the coolness. It looked so awesome that I really wanted to try it but I could just see myself launching over the handlebars and toppling half the room. Another song of awesome rocking out, then she put her hair up and I went back to focusing on Ryan, whose tshirt had lit up at some point. We launched into the classic Soul pushup chorography that never fails to make me feel like the least coordinated person on the planet (especially when added to my lack of head banging ability) and Ryan rocked it out. My favorite moment was when at one point, when we were doing beats, where we were supposed to all be on the same leg, Ryan busted out what looked like Airplane Wands, rocking left and right for which leg we were supposed to be on. It was so ridiculously fun and was the only time I was remotely on the right leg!  Ryan’s playlist was awesome – filled with mixes & songs I’d never heard in any other class. He managed to have a playlist that made me think often, “I’d have NEVER thought you could ride to that!” Towards the end of class, Ryan pointed out the awesome headbanger and said anyone here who hasn’t gotten to Janet Fitzgerald’s class, you need to now. AHH! I was still crushed out on her but I suddenly felt better about the fact that head banging was out of the question for me!

Ryan’s birthday ride was also one of the few classes where I wasn’t even remotely the loudest person in the class and it was just ridiculously fun -I loved every single moment of it. The ride itself was so loud that by the end Ryan blew out his mike. It made him burst out laughing –“anyone take bets on that?”  Soul inspired him but on Saturday night, he showed a whole room of people that following your passion can lead you to a really wonderful place….

Collect moment not thingsIn the lobby, people were getting ready to celebrate but I slipped out before they realized I didn’t really belong at this party… and left on a glorious, inspired high.

Photo of Ryan from Twitter (follow him @24_7_Ry) and bottom image just a little bit of internet goodness.